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Thread: 4e DM Cheat Sheet
Monday, 27th June, 2011, 11:12 PM #1
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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- Jun 2004
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ø Block Quickleaf
4e DM Cheat Sheet
I just put together a cheat sheet for our DM (and my future games). The idea behind it is, theoretically, you could run a game by the seat of your pants with just this sheet.
Enjoy! And I'd appreciate any feedback you have too.
LATEST UPDATE: 9/27/12
* Added save bonuses to elites and solos
* Added CA (combat advantage) notation to dying, petrified, and unconscious conditions
To give credit where credit is due:
The "DC by level" table and the "Skill Challenge" table are wholesale from the Rules Compendium, with a couple additional advantages I wrote up.
The "Monster" table is based on the awesome MM3 on a business card over at SlyFlourish. The table on "updating pre-MM3 monsters" is just what I use for my own games based on the changes I observed in monster design.
The "Traps/Hazards" table is the skin and bones advice from Matthew Sernett's Trapped article in Dragon #366 .
The "Improvised Actions / Terrain Powers" table draws on DMG page 42 as well as Mark Monack's Tutorial: Terrain Powers article on the Wotc website.
EDIT: Since Mark Monack's article is no longer up, I wanted to leave an explanation of how to use the "Improvised Actions / Terrain Powers" table...
This table illustrates how you as DM judge how strong a given improvised effect is for your monsters.
My goal in writing the DM cheat sheet (and this table) was to empower a DM to improvise a monster's powers rather than be bound by what the Monster Manual / Monster Vault said.
For example, say you have a level 9 monster that you want to be able to dominate a PC. Well, a look at this table will tell you that the ability to dominate is meant to be reserved for monsters of level 22 or higher, so you're better off coming up with some weaker alternative, or maybe, if you know what you're doing including several conditions/restrictions/easy-outs from under the monster's domination for a level 9 party.
Alternately, a more complicated example. If you have a level 18 monster and you want to give it a flavorful minor action, what sorts of things are power level appropriate for a level 18 monster to do with a minor action? Well, hey, I've handily color-coded the chart for you! So you might choose:
Knock the target prone on a hit
Deafen the target on a hit
Deal ongoing damage on a hit (generally ongoing damage is Low Normal damage)
Leap over an obstacle
Slide the target up to 4 squares on a hit
Finally, a bit of comparison. Let's take a level 9 monster vs. level 18 monster vs. level 30 monster. Let's say they're all Soldiers in 4e terms, OK? But they don't mark, and as DM you'd like them to have a marking ability for a particular encounter (yes, an imaginary encounter with level 9, level 18, and level 30 monsters fighting side by side). What is the power level appropriate way to improvise marking? Well...
For the level 9 monster, the mark should be part of a standard action attack. Lots of examples of that in 4e, like the 4e fighter.
For the level 18 monster, the mark should be worth a move action. A little tricky to imagine, but maybe it has a reactive mark if a creature moves away from it. Or maybe it slithers in a way so that any creature it ends its move adjacent to is marked by it?
For the level 30 monster, the mark should be worth a minor action. So maybe this monster just needs to look at you with its balefire eyes and you are marked as you feel its deathly grip upon your soul?
And the last thing is the damage tables. I forget exactly what Mark Monack said, but how I used them was...
Normal Damage for at-will attacks, Limited damage for encounter/recharge attacks.
Low Damage for most controllers and area effect attacks.
Medium Damage for most monster's attacks vs. one or two targets. Often I'd have area effects of elites/solos dealing Medium Damage too.
High Damage for strikers or conditional attacks requiring setup. Often I'd have the single-target attacks of elites/solos dealing High Damage too. (EDIT: it's worth noting that my elite/solo strikers dealt at-will damage corresponding to Limited High, and I generally avoided giving those kinds of strikers encounter/recharge powers, or if I did I would foreshadow it to the players, since once you start dealing damage off the chart the possibility of one-shotting a PC increases)
And that is it in a (medium-sized) nutshell!
Last edited by Quickleaf; Thursday, 16th February, 2017 at 08:25 PM.
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